Record Number of Women Studying to be Rabbis

A record total of 75 women are studying for the rabbinate in Reform and Reconstructionists seminaries this academic year, according to a Jewish Telgraphic Agency survey.

Stanley Saplin, associate information director for the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), reported that a total of 209 students are registered for rabbinical studies in the Reform seminaries in Los Angeles, Cincinnati and New York, and that 62 are women. Jennifer Gabriel, registrar for the Reconstructionist school, informed the JTA that there are 13 women candidates registered for the new school year.

Mrs. Gabriel reported that four women are registered for the 1978-79 freshman class at the Reconstructionist school and that there are two women in the senior class.

Seven women have been ordained as Reform rabbis since the HUC-JIR began accepting women for ordination and four now hold pulpits. Four women have been graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia and one is in a pulpit.

Rabbi Sally J. Preisand, a 1972 graduate of the HUC in Cincinnati, is the first woman rabbi in American history. She now serves as associate rabbi at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York. Rabbi Michal B. Bernstein, a 1975 graduate of the JIR in New York, recently resigned from the pulpit to start graduate study.

Rabbi Rosalind A. Gold is assistant rabbi at Temple B’rith Kodesh in Rochester, NY. Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz is assistant rabbi at the Central Synagogue in Manhattan. Rabbi Myra Soifer is assistant rabbi at Temple Sinai in New Orleans. All were ordained last June. Rabbi Laura J. Geller is director of the Hillel Foundation Center at the University of Southern California. Rabbi Karen L. Fox is assistant director of the Federation of Reform Synagogues in New York.

The only Reconstructionist rabbi holding a pulpit is Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso who, in a unique arrangement, shares the pulpit of Congregation Beth El Zedek of Indianapolis with her husband, Rabbi Dennis Sasso, also a Reconstructionist rabbi. Rabbi Rebecca Trachtenberg Alpert is director of student affairs at the Reconstructionist College. Rabbi Ilene Schneider is principal of the Cyrus Adler regional Hebrew High School in Philadelphia. Rabbi Ruth Sandberg is director of religious education at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, PA.